Tilāwah: Sūrah Maryam, Verses 1 – 36
Riwāyah: Khalaf ʿan Ḥamzah
Rasulullah (SAW) said concerning the Qur’an: The Qur’an has descended upon seven letters. نزل القرآن على سبعة أحرف.
Several explanations have been provided to explain the meaning of these seven letters. The significance of the number seven is also well known to us. However, the seven letters from a ẓāhirī perspective are the differences between the various readings as listed out in the article entitled “The Readings.”
This brings us to the question of the origin of these readings.
It is narrated that Rasulullah (SAW) used to visit the various Arabian tribes and present the Qur’an to them in their local dialect. Several scholars used to memorize and recite the Qur’an exactly as they had heard from Rasulullah (SAW). However, when the scholars multiplied and so did their readings, there arose a need to authenticate what the scholars had memorized. This led to the rise of a subsequent generation of scholars who dedicated their time and effort to research into the various readings and determine which were authentic and which were not.
A consensus was reached upon ten readings being authentic. They were named mutawātir readings because their chain of narration was replete with authentic narrators. One of these ten authentic readings is that of Ḥafṣ from ʿĀṣim. This reading is simple and easy to read and memorize. Most people who recite the Qur’an are unaware of any other reading except this. Among the main reasons for the mass acceptance and deep outreach of this reading is that it has been directly transmitted from Amirul Mumineen Maulana Ali b. Abu Talib AS.
There are three terms one should be aware of while discussing the different Qur’anic readings. The first term is “reading” itself. The original term in Arabic for this word is qirāʾah (قراءة). This is the actual text of the Qur’an. The second term is “narration.” In Arabic, it is riwāyah (رواية). This is the narration of the qirāʾah from the original qārī to whom the reading is attributed. There are two narrators for each qārī. For example, ʿĀṣim has two narrators, Ḥafṣ and Shuʿbah. Therefore, there are a total of 20 narrations, two for each of the ten qirāʾah. The final term is tarīq (طريق). This is the final leg in the journey of a reading’s transmission. In a practical context, the term tarīq is used to refer to the path from which the narration i.e. riwāyah has reached us. The first seven readings have reached us from the tarīq of Al-Shaṭibīyah, a name given to the composition ḥirz al-maʿānī of Abū-l-Qāsim b. Firroh al-Shāṭibī. The last three readings have come to us from the tarīq of Al-Durrah, a name given to the composition al-durrah al-muḍīʿah of Ibn al-Jazarī. These are known as Al-Qirāʾāt al-Ashr al-Sughrā (The Lesser Ten Readings). There are several more turuq and wujuh, all of which are collectively known as Al-Qirāʾāt al-ʿAshr al-Kubrā (The Greater Ten Readings) and are contained in Ibn al-Jazarī’s Tayyibah al-Nashr (طيبة النشر).
Students of these readings often encounter two other important terms. The first of those is uṣūl or principles. The uṣūl are fixed rules that govern the various aspects of a particular reading. The aḥkām al-tajwīd that we often learn and memorize are also part of the uṣūl. The second term is furushāt. These are the individual differences in each reading which do not conform to a fixed principle. These must be memorized independently.
Today, Shehzada Saheb (DM) recited in the oft discussed narration of Khalaf ʿan Ḥamzah. The entire tilāwah of the first 36 verses of Sūrah Maryam were completed in this reading.
Do you remember any peculiarities of this Qirāʾah from what was recited today? Do use the space below to post your comments and questions.